Chinese history cash plan 澳洲華人據史力爭,謀求政府經濟補償

CHINESE community leaders will ask the federal government to set up a fund that would acknowledge Australia’s history of racial discrimination against Chinese migrants.

The fund is seen as an alternative to pressing for a formal apology for past anti-Chinese policies, including taxes imposed by colonial governments to deter Chinese migrants.

Similar funds have been set up by Canadian and New Zealand governments, both of which have apologised for mistreatment of Chinese migrants and have histories of racial discrimination similar to Australia’s.

The trust fund proposal is at the nascent stage but has been put to the government in preliminary discussions. Its proponents say it could be used to fund educational and cultural programs and encourage Chinese Australians to engage in public debate.

“We want to light up the past to light up the present,” said Chek Ling, a community activist who raised the idea with Multicultural Affairs Minister Kate Lundy late last year when she was Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs.

He also raised the prospect of a formal statement in Parliament by the government, acknowledging the contribution of the Chinese community. Mr Ling expected further talks with Senator Lundy’s office.

Senator Lundy did not respond directly when The Sunday Age sought her view on the merits of a trust fund. “It is not current government policy to establish a poll tax trust fund,” her media adviser said.

The proposal emerged from a conference last year of the Chinese Community Council of Australia, which called for a government apology for past racist treatment of Chinese migrants. Mr Ling and other community representatives have since backed away from seeking an apology.

Chinese migrants faced widespread popular prejudice in the 19th century and were victims of violent attacks on the Victorian and New South Wales goldfields. Under public pressure, the then colonial governments introduced laws to restrict Chinese immigration. In 1855, Victoria imposed a £10 poll tax on every Chinese entering the colony. Discrimination was perpetuated with the White Australia Policy after the colonies federated in 1901.

In 2006, the Canadian government formally apologised for the “grave injustice” inflicted on Chinese who were subjected to a similar tax. Canada set up a $C35 million ($A33 million) trust fund to finance cultural and educational projects, and offered reparations to surviving payers of the tax.

New Zealand apologised in 2002 for its treatment of Chinese and set up a $NZ5 million ($A3.8 million) poll tax heritage trust in 2005 to fund historical and cultural projects.
“There are international precedents for a symbolic goodwill trust fund, in recognition of what the poll tax represented,” Mr Ling said.

President of the Chinese community council Anthony Pun said the fund would have a strong focus on educating Australians about their history. This, he said, was preferable to an official apology.

“We need to be able to share with all Australians how Chinese were treated,” Dr Pun said. “We’re not whingers, but we think this needs to be

Mr Ling has suggested the fund could be used to revise the way Chinese Australians are portrayed in school curriculums, history books and museums so that they did not simply reflect the European perspectives.

One idea is for a travelling exhibition on the violence known as the Lambing Flat riots in 1860-61, when mobs of white miners attacked Chinese miners to try to force them from the NSW gold fields.

Issues related to the trust fund and the role of Chinese Australians in public life will be the focus of the Chinese community council’s second national conference in Melbourne in August.

Tom Hyland
March 11, 2012


設立該基金的要求被視為華人領袖們為迫使聯邦政府對於歷史中由殖民地政府執行的反對華人政策,包括殖民政府為阻止華人移民特別施加的人頭稅,做出正式道歉而另闢蹊徑的結果。 而與澳大利亞有著相似種族歧視歷史的加拿大及新西蘭政府則早已設立類似基金,並對其政府歷史中粗暴對待中國移民的不當行為做出了正式道歉。


社區活動家Chek Ling就於去年對時任移民及多元文化事務議會秘書,現任多元文化事務部部長的Kate Lundy提出了他的看法。 Ling先生認為:“我們探究過去的目的是為了指明現在的道路。” Ling先生還指出,希望聯邦政府於議會裡發表正式聲明,承認華人的貢獻。


參議員Lundy並未直接回應由The Sunday Age提出,詢問她對於設立該信託基金的價值有何看法的問題。“建立人頭稅信託基金並不符合政府現行政策, ”而參議員媒體顧問則如是回答媒體。


在19世紀時,華人移民不但面臨著普遍流行的偏見,還常常淪為維多利亞州及新南威爾士州 金礦暴力襲擊的受害者。迫於公眾的壓力,當時的殖民地政府甚至還出台了限制華人移民的法令。維多利亞州就於1855年決定對每個進入殖民地的華人都強制徵收10英鎊的人頭稅。 1901年殖民地成立聯邦後,對華人的歧視更是隨著白澳政策而得以延續。




澳華社區議會主席Anthony Pun則表示,該基金的使用將堅定地致力於教育廣大澳洲民眾關於我們自己的歷史。而與政府正式道歉相比,他本人也更傾向於政府採取這個提議。





The Age报Tom Hyland